6 Things Entrepreneurs Should Do to Excel

Tony Schwartz, the author of The Power of Full Engagement and The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, among others, recently wrote a great blog post entitled Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything.

In his post, he makes the key point that each of us has the ability to build any skill or capacity. He also cites the great Aristotle quote “We are what we repeatedly do.”

Now, clearly this is not revolutionary thinking. I think we all know that if we practice something over and over again, that we can get considerably better at it.

The challenge however, is that practice is rarely enjoyable. Sure, the success that results from practicing and achieving your goals is highly satisfying. But, you first need to go through the pain of practice.

In his post, Schwartz sites six ways to improve the way your practice in order to get the results you want.

1. Pursue what you love. You must love what you do if you are going to excel at it, and be willing to put in the hard work and practice needed to succeed. Mark Twain said it best when he said, “The secret to success is making your vocation your vacation.”

2. Do the hardest work first. Brian Tracy calls this “eating the frog.” Because we try to avoid pain and gravitate towards pleasurable activities, we naturally procrastinate on tackling the most challenging but important tasks. By doing those things first, a) they get done, and b) we get more energy to complete other tasks thereafter.

3. Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break. We need to practice the areas we need to improve. And marathon practices are not the way to go; rather, practice for less time but frequently.

4. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses. Vince Lombardi said, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” Make sure you get expert feedback to make sure you are practicing the right way. Getting a business advisor is a great way to get ongoing expert feedback.

5. Take regular renewal breaks. As an entrepreneur, you cannot work 24/7. You will burn out eventually. Make sure you schedule some downtime. Physically you need it and mentally, the downtime will spur your creativity.

6. Ritualize practice. According to Schwartz, “the best way to insure you’ll take on difficult tasks is to ritualize them – build specific, inviolable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to squander energy thinking about them.”

I do this with regards to going to the gym. I go every Monday, Wednesday and Friday after work. It’s part of my routine. I don’t even think about it; I just go. If I had the mindset that I would go to the gym if/when there was time, I would go much less frequently. By building this activity into my schedule it gets done nearly 100% of the time. Think about what skills you need to improve, and build practice time into your routine.

Follow these six tips to make sure you build the skills you need to become a successful entrepreneur. And realize that your skill-building will never end. Even the most successful entrepreneurs continue to invest in education and practice; since there are always areas in which you can improve. So establish the best methods for you and make this practice part of your daily life.

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